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McDowell Co. Mine 57 shutdowns temporarily

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Due to poor market conditions impacting mining operations across the country, Bluestone was forced to temporarily idle Pay Car 57 Mine in McDowell County.

The news of Mine 57 being idled is no surprise to McDowell County native, Doug Christian.

"It's nothing new, you work save a bit of money in the bank then you strike or get laid off, and have to start all over again," Christian said.

"I mean it just happens all the time, it's normal around here. They go idle, for a while and then they open up again," Molina Roberts, Executive Director of McDowell County Economic Development Authority added.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail obtained violation reports. These documents say that Mine 57, which is owned by Governor Jim Justice's family is one of three in West Virginia that failed to install life-saving technology that would help prevent miners from being crushed to death by fast-moving machinery in underground coal mines.

"It's scary for one. People don't realize that you're inside the earth. Things happen, and we fear for them," Roberts described.

Pay Car 57 Mine isn't the only one in jeopardy. Pay Car 58 also missed the deadline to install proximity detection systems, which shut down underground mining machines before they get too close to workers.

Governor Jim Justice claimed that he would wipe out his family's debt from mine safety violations when he ran for Governor in 2016, but instead that debt has doubled according to NPR, who first reported the issues in 2014.

"Here you are ready for the holidays, and now you're laid off what are you going to do?" You can't provide for you kids and give them what you wanted to give them," Roberts said.

"Anytime that you have a coal mine or anything in that industry that actually goes idle, it drastically hurts our county, our people, and our economic. We're struggling as it is with little resources that we have and when something like this happens it plays a big thing. It's Christmas time, no money coming in, it's not good," County Commissioner, Michael Brooks added.

A Bluestone company spokesperson said "they are hopeful that they will be able to bring these workers back in the near future if conditions improve."

Star Connor

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